White oak flooring: features, benefits, and design ideas

Hardwood flooring has not only efficient but also aesthetic and artistic value. Mahogany, maple, red oak – each type of wood has its own advantages and admirers. Also, white oak is placed on a par with them – a material with almost the same strength characteristics, but at the same time attractive with unique decorative properties. Let’s find out a little more about the use of this wood in the flooring production and determine in which interior it will look most harmonious.

White oak flooring pros

The raw material for flooring is oak wood, which naturally grows in the eastern part of North America, from Florida in the south to Quebec in the north. Due to the high demand for this raw material in the industry, the cultivation of oak forests is actively developing, facilitated by its unpretentiousness and fairly confident growth – not only in America but also in Europe.

The extraordinary vitality of the plant also affects the quality of the wood obtained from it. White oak flooring is highly sought after by both designers and those looking to create impeccable contemporary interiors. Such flooring allows you to achieve the tasks due to the following unconditional advantages effortlessly:

  • Trendy texture. The uniformity and smoothness of white oak, accentuated by unobtrusive mineral stripes, look just a slight hint of classics – and as if radiates modern energy. Even floors with a more pronounced pattern look new, allowing for a noticeably refined loft and vintage style.
  • A variety of shades. Untreated white oak is most often characterized by a light brownish-yellow tint, slightly less common grayish, milky, and silvery tones. Besides, its wood is very favorable to various kinds of stains, allowing you to get a wide variety of colors – from almost white smoky to dark chocolate. Patina and brushing look no less impressive on the surface of white oak.
  • An increased water resistance. White oak refers to a closed type of wood – this means that its pores are clogged with viscous cellulose ethers, which do not allow the liquid to penetrate the material. Previously, it was often used for boats and entrance doors. Today, the floor made of this type of wood is used for “wet” areas in halls and kitchens since it perfectly repels water by itself. The coating with a particular composition makes it practically invulnerable.
  • Durability. The hardness of white oak gives it excellent resistance to dents, including high heels. However, just like red, it is prone to scratches, so untreated hardwood flooring needs extra protection.

White and red oak flooring: how to distinguish

Both red and white oak flooring materials are highly valued. However, if the choice in favor of the second option is fundamental for you for some reason, and you are not sure that you can distinguish one type from another, do not worry. Although the differences are not apparent in most cases, you can still see them. We present to you the main signs – out of only three.

  • Colour. The untrained eye will not immediately see the difference in shade – however, if you look closely, it will still be noticeable. The fact is that the wood of ordinary oak has a subtle pink tint, while a pronounced brownish-yellow distinguishes white.
  • Texture. The more popular red oak has a prominent, distinctive texture and large knot and vein pattern. White looks smoother and more uniform. First of all, this is due to the peculiarities of this tree species’ development: the fact is that its annual rings grow together evenly, so the cut is obtained with practically no pronounced stripes. These stripes also run in a straight line, while in red oak, the stripes are more sinuous. It is this feature that gives the flooring the restraint and conciseness, ideal for modern interiors.
  • Hardness. On the Janka scale used to assess wood’s hardness, white oak has a value of 1360, while in red oak, it is slightly lower – 1290. This difference is practically insignificant, but the wood of white oak even looks noticeably denser.

White oak flooring: 5 common myths

Today, many people are still wary of white oak solid wood for fear of using them as flooring. Most often, this is due to certain stereotypes that have nothing to do with reality. It’s time to debunk the myths – and be happy to choose a floor from this beautiful wood.

Myth 1: White oak floors are impractical and scratch too easily

As you know, wood’s susceptibility to mechanical stress of various kinds is determined by its hardness. Above, we have already said that very high indicators distinguish white oak in this parameter, and after processing with special varnishes, its hardness increases significantly. However, one cannot fail to mention that the most durable coating wears out over time – and if you want to maintain an impeccable oak floor, it is enough to follow a few simple rules:

  • instant removal of any stains and dirt;
  • special covers for furniture legs;
  • regular polishing of the flooring as prevention of minor scratches.

Myth 2. White oak is incompatible with pets

Oak can withstand the effects of dog claws quite okay – even if you don’t trim them regularly. If your animals are already adults and toilet trained, you have nothing to worry about: the floor made of white oak varieties will not be affected by them. However, suppose its installation coincided with a puppy’s appearance in your family. In that case, you need to accustom him to the street as soon as possible and protect the flooring from any pet tricks.

Myth 3. Oak flooring cannot be used in the kitchen

Now you already know that high water resistance is one of the essential advantages of white oak. You can safely use such flooring in the kitchen. However, if you are passionate about cooking and spend a lot of time in the kitchen, you can play it safe and lay a rug in the working triangle area.

Myth 4. White oak flooring is impractical and difficult to maintain.

White oak can hardly be called impractical: due to its light shades and patterns, dust and hair are almost invisible on its surface, and their cleaning takes a minimum of time. A robot vacuum cleaner and an ordinary broom will do a great job of removing all that is superfluous, and polishing every six months will help remove minor scratches and maintain a spectacular appearance of the flooring.

Myth 5. White oak is expensive

In fact, raw materials from species grown in the country or near abroad are much cheaper than exotic wood. The final cost usually depends on the flooring’s processing and production, but in general, it will not come out much more than a wooden floor from any other popular species.

White oak flooring grades

When choosing flooring from a given type of solid wood, you should also pay attention to its grade. The grade is assigned to the material not based on the gradation “better or worse” – it is purely the appearance that is important, namely the presence or absence of knots, wormholes, mineral stripes, noticeable color transitions, and minor milling defects. According to this parameter, today, there are three classes of white oak boards.

  • Select. Wood with the most homogeneous texture. Differs in a mild pattern of veins, other defects, as well as a very even color without sagging and transitions, the boards are long and with a minimum error in size. Knots are allowed at a distance of no more than 3 feet (about 1 meter). These floors are an excellent base for modern and contemporary interiors, including minimalism, Japanese and retro.
  • #1 Common. Wood with light defects and a more pronounced pattern. There may be knots and uneven streaks on the surface of such a flooring; color transitions from dark to light are noticeable, the boards may have length discrepancies. The floor of this grade looks harmoniously in a French country or Scandinavian interiors
  • #2 Common. Another name for this variety is Rustic, which speaks for itself. White oak floors of this grade look very natural. The veins’ pattern is large, and the stripes are strongly pronounced; there are many knots, irregularities, and color transitions. White oak planks with similar characteristics perfectly complement rustic and nautical interiors as well as country-style furnishings.

There is also another grade – #3 Common, also known as “Tavern”. However, due to a large number of natural and machine effects of wood and the vast “discrepancy” in terms of size, it is used only in technical and functional rooms for various purposes.

Matching the wall color to white oak floors

Cool and even cold shades characterize white oak flooring. Such a palette requires a careful selection of the walls’ color to create a harmonious and, at the same time, unique interior. Designers offer different combinations based on the positions of certain tones in the color wheel.

Complementary shades

Complementary are colors located in the color wheel strictly opposite each other. Since white oak has a grayish-blue tone, a creamy yellow hue will become an additional one for it – the walls painted in it will create a discreet contrast and warm the room. In this case, you can use blue, gray, yellow, and brown tones of furniture, textiles, and accessories as accents.

Similar shades

Colors that are next to each other on the color wheel and collected in groups of three adjacent are called similar. At the same time, their use creates a subtle and harmonious palette to which other colors can be skillfully added.

Designers consider the blue-gray shade of white oak similar to green and purple tones, which provides complete freedom of action within a given color scheme. You can use deep and calm greens and plums or sage and pale lilacs, and by adding similar colors to them, gradually move to gold and red tones in the setting and decor. This technique allows you to create an unusually expressive interior in which all shades are in complete harmony.

Unpretentiousness, versatility, outstanding aesthetic properties – all these advantages turn a white oak into a flooring for all times. Even if your design preferences change, this flooring is effortless to combine with any interior. Today, when rationality and sustainability are in trend, this is equally important.

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